Most people have heard that you should drink eight glasses of water a day to stay hydrated. You may even know that the average adult human is 60% water. But, what most people don’t realize is that it is possible to over-hydrate. This is also known as water poisoning or hyperhydration.
The simple fact is that everyone is different. For some, eight glasses of water are nowhere near enough. Others struggle to reach eight glasses. The good news is that overhydrating is rare. It most commonly occurs when people are having drinking contests and consume large amounts of liquid in short spaces of time.
This can also extend to those doing extreme sports or long-distance running. If they drink too much water when exercising their levels of sodium drop in the body. This is because the amount of water being consumed is too much to allow your body to maintain an adequate electrolyte balance. The result is low sodium levels which causes your brain to feel sluggish and can, in extreme cases, cause death.
You should note that commonly used household filters change the mineral balance of the water. For example, reverse osmosis filtered water removes minerals, including salt from the water. This heightens the electrolyte imbalance even when you are not drinking excessive amounts of water. These filters are very good but, if you are exercising a lot you should use a secondary filter that adds specific minerals back in, including sodium.
The most important thing you can do to prevent water intoxication is to monitor yourself. The biggest risk occurs when you are sweating a lot. This means sodium is leaving your body but may not be being replenished. The result will be a drop in sodium levels, brain fog, and possible death.
When this happens stop the activity to allow your body to cool. You should also hydrate but not with just water. Instead, choose a sports drink or something similar that contains electrolytes. This will help to quickly rebalance your body, counteracting the effects of the excess liquid.
A Balanced Diet
It is also important to maintain a balanced and healthy diet. That means plenty of fruit and veg, carbohydrates, and proteins. This will help to ensure your body has the minerals it needs and eradicate any issue associated with drinking too much water.
If you are a long-distance runner, hiker, extreme sports enthusiast, or just conscious you need to drink 3-4 liters of water a day, you are at risk of drinking too much and getting water intoxication. The easiest way to avoid this is to listen to your body.
Instead of drinking all the time because you think you should drink only when you feel thirsty. Your body is actually very good at telling you what it needs, you just need to be able to recognize the signs and respond accordingly. This will help to ensure you don’t drink more water than you should and make yourself ill.